Golf: Dick gears up to complete full set of Edinburgh titles

ALLYN DICK is out to complete the set of Edinburgh’s golfing crown jewels before he hopes to ‘defend’ his Lothians Championship crown at Dalmahoy next week.

The Kingsknowe player claimed that coveted prize at Royal Burgess in 2010, then added the Champion of Champions title at Dunbar last year.

He has also had his hands on the Dispatch Trophy, as a member of the treble-winning Carrickvale team.

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It leaves the Stuart Cup, which is presented to the winner of the Lothians Championship qualifying, as the only item missing from Dick’s Capital CV.

That’s up for grabs at Harburn and Pumpherston tomorrow, and the Scottish international has it in his sights.

“All I need to complete the set in the Lothians is the Stuart Cup, so I’ll be aiming to post a couple of good numbers,” he declared.

Dick beat Craig Elliot, one of his Carrickvale team-mates, in the Dispatch Trophy final to become the first Kingsknowe player in 30 years to be crowned as Lothians champion.

He didn’t defend his title 12 months ago, when Alan Anderson of Bruntsfield Links won at Newbattle, as he was down at the Lytham Trophy.

Dick has since lost his sportscotland funding, so has decided to stay closer to home this weekend rather than face an expensive trip to Lancashire.

“You could say I’m defending my 2010 title and I’m looking forward to it,” he added.

His first target is to be among the 32 qualifiers for the match-play stage, which starts at Dalmahoy on Monday and runs through to the final at the Marriott venue next Saturday.

“I love the cut and thrust of match-play,” said Dick, a claim backed up by the fact he set Lothians on the way to an excellent win in their match against Northumberland at City of Newcastle last Sunday.

Dunbar’s Stephen Simants is defending the Stuart Cup tomorrow, when the competition to be among the match-play qualifiers will be intense.

With home advantage for half of the 36-hole test, Pumpherston’s Paul Drake should fancy his chances of making it through to Dalmahoy. So, too, will Anderson, fellow former winners Keith Nicholson (Haddington) and Steven Armstrong (Turnhouse), Silverknowes star Graham Robertson, who won the Edward Trophy last year, and Craigielaw’s Ross Noon, the 2011 Lothians Order of Merit winner.

Add in Stuart Crookston (Bathgate), Stephen Neilson (Dunbar), Robert Carson (Dalmahoy) and Graham Davidson (Winterfield), to name but a few, and it’s arguably the strongest qualifying field for some time.

“This could possibly be the toughest Lothians Championship to win for a number of years,” acknowledged Dick.

“Keith Nicholson still plays off plus three, while Steven Armstrong has come back into a bit of form recently.

Paul Drake is another player who is well capable of winning this, as is someone like Ross Noon, who has stepped his game up over the past year or so.”

If Dick does make it to Dalmahoy, he will be taking a step into the unknown having not played the East Course since it was both altered and lengthened in 2005.

“I’m certainly hoping to go back there again,” he said. “It’s probably a bit different to the courses used for the Lothians in recent years in terms of length.

“That means it could suit someone who hits it far, especially on the longer back nine.”

Only a handful of players have recorded multiple wins in the LGA’s flagship event, which will no doubt make Dick all the more determined to add his name to the list.

“My game has been a bit up and down in the first few weeks of the season,” he said. “I played well in the Craigmillar Park Open, then struggled badly in the Battle Trophy at Crail, but played well again in my singles against Northumberland.

“However, thanks to having a card and pencil in my hand playing in the East Alliance over the winter, I’d say my game is ahead of schedule.”

Tomorrow’s event, which sees competitors playing a round each at Harburn and Pumpherston, is the final chance for contenders to stake their claim for a place in the Lothians team for this year’s Scottish Area Championship.